February 22, 2023
Trafalgar Square, London
As prepared for delivery
” Truly, as President Zelenskyy said at Westminster Abbey, the United States and the United Kingdom are “marching with Ukraine towards the most important victory of our lifetime.” On his extraordinary visit to Kyiv this week, President Biden stood in the Mariinsky Palace and promised that we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, because QUOTE “freedom is worth fighting for…for as long as it takes.”
Ambassador Jane Hartley: Good evening and welcome to the Ambassador’s residence here in London. Tonight, we come together to honor the resilience and bravery of Ukraine and its people.
It’s been one year since Russia launched its assault on Ukraine, without provocation or justification. One morning, the people of Ukraine were free and at peace. The next, they were woken up by the sound of bombs falling around their homes. Civilians were forced into exile; many were compelled to take up arms. Among Ukraine’s soldiers are farmers and doctors, artists and artisans, teachers and tradesmen.
In the chaos of those early days, with everything hanging in the balance, the Ukrainian military showed incredible strength. And then through a long and cold winter, sometimes without heat or electricity, Ukrainian families showed incredible resilience. Throughout this entire war, the Ukrainian people have shown incredible courage.
Yes, their courage—that’s what Putin has underestimated all along. Blinded by contempt, Putin believed Ukraine’s army was disorganized and its government weak. Blinded by ignorance, Putin believed the international community would look the other way. Blinded by arrogance, Putin believed the war would be over in days. Oh but the war wasn’t over in days, was it?
Russia did not prevail. Kyiv did not fall. And Ukraine’s friends did not falter.
As President Biden said in Warsaw, “Democracy was too strong. The democracies of the world have grown stronger, not weaker. But the autocrats of the world have grown weaker, not stronger.” That’s the lesson of this war.
Putin was blind to extraordinary strength of Ukraine’s democracy. He couldn’t see that the democratic West was not divided but united in purpose, ready to defend our friends and our values. That’s why President Biden made the tough decision to release intelligence to warn Ukraine of what Putin was planning. That’s why the international community, led by the United States and the United Kingdom, have punished Putin and his cronies with crippling sanctions. That’s why the U.S. and the UK have given Ukraine more than $45 billion to help them on the battlefield, by far the most of any two nations in the world—once again the arsenal of democracy.
I want to personally thank Prime Minister Sunak and Defense Minister Wallace for being such strong and steadfast allies to our friends in Ukraine. They are true and cherished partners of the United States, and true champions of democracy in Europe.
Truly, as President Zelenskyy said at Westminster Abbey, the United States and the United Kingdom are “marching with Ukraine towards the most important victory of our lifetime.” On his extraordinary visit to Kyiv this week, President Biden stood in the Mariinsky Palace and promised that we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, because QUOTE “freedom is worth fighting for…for as long as it takes.”
President Biden became one of the first presidents ever to visit a war zone where U.S. troops are not stationed or engaged in the war. That shows just how much Ukraine’s victory means to the United States and to the President himself.
I’ve been reflecting this week on that commitment, thinking about what it will look like for Ukraine to win this war. Tonight, I want you to think about it too.
Imagine Ukraine victorious, her borders restored, her people safe and secure. Imagine Ukraine rebuilding, repairing her cities and towns with help from her friends and allies. A country where soldiers go back to their families, children go back to the playgrounds, and musicians and dancers perform at the grand old opera halls of Kyiv and Odesa once more.
Tonight, we have with us a group of Ukrainian artists, Including the famous Jamala, dancers with Company E, and members of the band Antytila, who have been serving as combat medics with the 130th Battalion and will soon return to serve their country.
We also have several members of the Ukrainian military, including: Captain Dmytro Donskoi, Colonel Vitali Kraskovskyi, and Captain Oleksii Fedchenko, as well as their families and two 16-year-old daughters.
We imagine the day when they can all return to a Ukraine at peace. To a strong and free and prosperous nation, a victorious democracy. A nation that sent a message to every would-be tyrant in every dark corner of the world: that a proud people will always fight to defend their homeland, and their friends will unite to support their cause, and even if the struggle is long and the hardship immense, in the words of President Zelenskyy, “the light side of human nature will always prevail.”
My friends, that is the Ukraine we fight for. Let us never forget how much the freedom of Ukraine means to the world, and what the friendship of the United States and the United Kingdom means to securing that freedom.